Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra

Tammy’s views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammy’s neighbors, Wayne Mayo, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Trump, Henry Heimuller, VP Pence, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsiglia’s dog, or Claudia Eagle’s Cats. This Tammy’s Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.

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The water was thick with oil, coating all creatures, killing thousands of every living creature in the oil zone.


The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill



On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil.  After twenty five years of research scientists have discovered how the diverse animal populations were affected differently from the oil spill and how the populations recovered.


The information gathered from the Valdez spill will be used to directly assess any new spills for immediate actions, and in conducting damage assessment after spills. And determining all the environmental risks associated with oil mining and the shipping of oil.


Because wildlife species in the Valdez spill area varied so much in terms of what they eat, their habitat, and their ability to rebound after a drop in numbers, data reports saw huge differences in how long it took for populations to recover. Researchers found some species were barely affected, others such as bald eagles, rebounded quickly, some species took much longer to recover, for example sea otters.


Species that consumed invertebrates that occur in or on contaminated sediments were more likely to be affected by the oil spill than those that fed on fish or zooplankton in the water column. Species with low reproductive rates, such as orcas, have limited capacity to recover, because of the time it takes to breed, gestation period and calve, orcas still have not returned to pre-spill numbers.


Long-term studies of sea otters and harlequin ducks, being two species that showed lack of recovery for over two decades after the spill. Sea otters were exposed to lingering oil in beach sediments long after shorelines appeared clean and oil exposure affected survival rates and population growth until at least the mid-2000’s. It has found that the long term affects are worse than the initial oil spill which killed a minimum of 1000 sea otters.


An interesting bit of information is that areas which were oiled and hot-water washed (a response technique applied during the Exxon Valdez spill) sites initially suffered more severe declines in population abundance than oiled and not-washed sites. That  means, the washed sites had aharder path to recovery than sites that were not washed.


Chemical contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (potentially toxic chemical components of oil) in tissues of mussels and clams were significantly elevated over background levels through 1992 for mussels and 1996 for clams. When re-surveyed-- the clams in 2007, did not have any elevated tissue concentrations at the monitoring sites.


Environmental exposure, sediment size, and initial oil concentrations all affected oil weathering processes and rates. By 1997, residual oil found in patches in sediments at a few of the test sites ranged from moderately to extremely weathered, with oil from deep subsurface reservoirs under gravel beaches the least weathered. Other researchers have located surprising pockets of oil remaining on some beaches, and these are being studied to determine why they have survived for over two decades.


While some areas have recovered, many other affected areas have not. Many of the studies which have been done have been in only certain parts of the area. In order for the affected area to be deemed clean the entire ecosystem must - be considered. At the time where all affected species have re-covered to pre-spill conditions, only then can the area be deemed recovered. We know that oil remains in Prince William Sound. The extent to which it may be having an adverse impact is debatable and is still under investigation, but for some people the fact that it remains at all is evidence that recovery has not taken place. Every year NOAA responds to more than a hundred oil and chemical spills in U.S. waters, which threaten life, property, and public natural resources.


In the Valdez oil spill:  The government attorneys have dropped their effort to claim an additional $92 million from Exxon that could have been available under a special "reopener" provision in the 1991 spill settlement.


Under that settlement, Exxon paid $125 million in criminal fines and, over 10 years, $900 million in civil penalties for spill damages to publicly owned natural resources -- land, water and wildlife. Its reopener provision allowed the state and federal governments to seek up to $100 million more in future years for restoration projects to address unforeseen environmental damages. The governments in 2006 invoked that provision, demanding $92 million to pay for a program to identify and clean up lingering pockets of leftover Exxon oil. They said the oil, in scattered pockets of tidelands totaling about two miles in length, remained in quantities that had been unexpected in 1991. The government concluded that the proposed program would not do much good and is no longer needed.


Even though science has proven that the herring demise that has inundated the Sound is directly from the oil residue from the spill. The fisherman and others who lost their lively hoods due to the oil spill received a whopping 10 cents on the dollar from the settlement. People went broke, waited for years and years for a settlement from the Exxon Corporation. Hoping to get enough money to live, to re-build- or start a different business.  Waited for their government to help protect them from being financially ruined, a government which failed them miserably.









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